Pubdate: Sat, 7 Apr 2001
Source: Het Parool (The Netherlands)
Copyright: 2001 Het Parool
Address: Postbus 433, 1000 AK Amsterdam
Contact:  020 - 262 28 22
Author: Kurt van Es
Translation: by Jan van der Tas - underneath find an informal translation 
of an article that appeared on Saturday April 7th in the Amsterdam 
newspaper 'Het Parool'. Quotations, even between '-' s, are not to be 
considered as verbatim.
Note: Het Nederlandse 'Media Awareness Project' has distributed and archived over 330 
articles, in Dutch, from the newspapers of The Netherlands. MAP-NL also 
maintains pages of links to the best, with ratings for the very best, 
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AMSTERDAM - The Netherlands have withdrawn their financial support for the 
drug-fighting agency of the United Nations. Minister Evelyne Herfkens of 
Development Cooperation has come to this decision after persistent 
accusations came to light about mismanagement at the highest level of the 
UN-agency in Vienna, the UNDCP.

A spokesperson for the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed, 
that the Dutch yearly contribution of US$ 4 million has for the time being 
been 'frozen'. This contribution had just been increased considerably in 
the last year. The Ministry itself qualifies the measure as drastic.

The director general of the United Nations Drug Control Program, a 
well-known mafia expert from Italy, Pino Arlacchi, has already for some 
time been the object of severe criticism. Numerous top staff members of 
UNDCP's head-office in Vienna have resigned, among them the experienced UN 
administrator and respected director for operations and analysis, Michael 
von der Schulenburg. In his letter of resignation the latter talks about 
UNDCP as an organization that is falling to bits.

The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs draws attention to the fact, 
that the internal inspection and audit branch of the UN in New York have 
started to investigate all accusations leveled at Arlacchi, including 
rumours of interlocking interests and even corruption. The Netherlands now 
wait for the outcome of these studies, as well as for the implementation of 
some measures of reorganization, that have already been announced.

A spokesperson from the Agency in Vienna denies that the investigation is 
directed against Arlacchi himself, but confirms other countries as well 
have asked for clarifications to be given and measures to be taken. He 
expects a UN report on this affair to be available by the end of May.

That the Netherlands are not alone in their criticism, also follows from a 
resolution adopted at the recent meeting of the governing body of UNDCP, 
the UN Committee on Narcotic Drugs, in which improvements in the running of 
the Agency are urgently requested. Some countries have now imposed 
restrictions on the use of their financial contributions, but only the 
Netherlands have decided to cut off their funding altogether.

Arlacchi was an italian senator and a friend of the wellknown italian 
mafia-fighter Giovanni Falcone, who was murdered in 1992. His critics 
pretend, that as a director general of UNDCP he behaves too much like a 
general in the fight against drug related crime, thus becoming involved in 
'wars' where neither he nor the UN-organization belong. It is said f.i. 
that he is involved with the setting up of paramilitary units on the 
borders of Tadschikistan and Afghanistan.

The core business of the UN agency for drug fighting has to do with 
controlling the application of the UN drug treaties, prevention, helping 
peasants to grow alternative crops instead of coca and poppies and 
assisting in the fight against drugs trade with technical aid and 
information. Operational activities against drug traders do not belong in 
this list.

Arlacchi himself calls the accusations against him a price he has to pay 
for his robust approach to his job. But he can no longer ignore the growing 
criticism. Especially the resignation-letter of Von der Schulenburg has put 
him in an awkward predicament. In this detailed memorandum of december 4th 
2000, which at times sounds like an indictment, Schulenburg among other 
things talks of 'destroying the credibility of UNDCP' and of 'a style of 
management that has demoralized, intimidated and paralyzed the staff of UNDCP'.

It is in such an atmosphere, that Herfkens, the Netherlands development 
cooperation minister does not want to put the tax payer's money at risk. 
Funding of UNDCP is in the hands of her department in view of the 
multilateral character of the United Nations. UNDCP is financed by 
voluntary contributions from UN member countries. The Netherlands with a 
budget of US$ 4 million is the program's sixth largest contributor. Other 
critical countries are the UK, Germany and Sweden. They also exercize 
considerable pressure on UNDCP to come up with improvements.

It is not the first time the Netherlands are at loggerheads with the UN 
drugs agency, but earlier on it was because of the country's 'tolerant' 
drug policies, which are supposed to be at odds with the UN drug treaties. 
UN criticism of dutch policies has recently been somewhat mitigated, as 
other European countries seem to move more and more in the direction of 
dutch practices in the field of drugs.

In these circumstances it is now the turn of the Netherlands to formulate 
critical questions with regard to the supposed rigidity of the UN drug 
treaties. In the meeting of the Committee on Narcotic Drugs, which  took 
place in Vienna from March 20th to March 29th 2001, the Netherlands 
delegate openly declared that the UN should study and try to bridge the 
tension between the ideology underlying the treaties and the reality and 
practices of today's drug consumption patterns.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake